Arlington, VA

This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Arlington’s newest spot to catch great music is one you might not expect: Columbia Pike Branch Library!

With nearly 300 people dancing in the aisles for the season two’s opening concert last month, Groovin’ On the Pike: After Hours at the Library dance party continues Friday, November 2 with internationally-renowned West African musician and griot Cheick Hamala Diabate. As evidenced by Diabate’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert (see below), it’s going to be a great time!

A co-presentation between Arlington Arts and Arlington Public Library, the free event represents a partnership across Arlington County Government divisions that broadens the scope of performing arts venues in the County, while also bringing new and different constituencies into the library. The series continues with the New Orleans soul of Funky Miracle on Dec 7, and Little Red and the Renegades on February 1, 2019.

Featuring a diverse line up of musical groups from near and far, guests can dance in the stacks and enjoy a brew from the cash bar every first Friday of the month!

Washington may be chock-a-block with lobbyists and consultants, but only one of them rocks the n’goni, the West African plucked lute covered with animal skin.

Cheick Hamala Diabate advises presidents and the World Bank. He’s played for everyone from a struggling couple trying to save their marriage, to the U.S. Congress. He’s hobnobbed with American string and Blues legends — from Bela Fleck to Corey Harris — and along the way reunited his beloved instrument with its long-lost grandchild, America’s banjo.

While partying at your local library has been somewhat rare in recent years, they have a long history as special event venues. Historically, the Library was often among the more spacious and attractive public facilities in communities both large and small. Today architects and urban planners are increasingly viewing Libraries as ‘third places’: that space between ‘home’ and ‘workplace’ that serves multiple recreational and civic functions.

As detailed in this article in American Libraries magazine, more and more these spaces are being reimagined as “the “living room of the city,” and as such it was less focused on books and more focused on human needs, providing space for performances, meetings, children’s activities, art installations and general public gatherings.”

Come on out and get ‘balanced’ as you sway to the lilting rhythms of Cheick Hamala Diabate — free on Friday, Nov 2 at Columbia Pike Branch Library.

Click this link for free tickets.

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